We all know the napkin dispenser. It is ubiquitous and uncomplicated, a mainstay at any casual dining or quick service restaurant. Commercial napkin dispensers hold our napkins, protecting them until grubby hands seek them out.
You probably didn’t think about napkin dispensers, until you needed to purchase one.
Suddenly, what you thought was simple, isn’t. For something as forgettable as the napkin dispenser, you have choices.
So, we will quickly explore the two main types of commercial napkin dispensers.
Tabletop Napkin Dispensers
The primary type of restaurant napkin dispenser sits on your tabletop and releases napkins from the side. It uses non-interfold (or non-interleave) dispenser napkins. Non-interfold napkins sit one on top of each other, without interacting. As such, it is fairly easy for a customer to grab multiple napkins from the same dispenser at the same time.
Tabletop napkin dispensers can be metal (generally stainless steel) or hard plastic (typically in dark colors, such as black).
Interleave Napkin Dispensers
Interleave dispenser napkins act a bit differently. The back panel of one napkin folds into the front panel of the next, effectively “chaining” the napkins together. As such, interleave napkins disperse one at a time, like a tissue box.
Interleave dispensers typically release napkins either up (from tabletop or counter dispensers) or down (from wall dispensers).
Additionally, interleave napkin dispensers are branded products. They are typically sold under specific names, with specific napkin sizes manufactured to fit the dispenser.
Why Does It Matter?
There are two primary reason why the difference is significant:
- Interleave and non-interleave napkins, although very similar in appearance, are not interchangeable. Each type is manufactured to fit its specific dispenser. Fitting an interleave napkin into a non-interleave dispenser loses the “one at a time” characteristic of the interleave napkin. And using a non-interleave napkin in an interleave dispenser loses the one at a time characteristic of the dispenser. Now, if you as the restauranteur do not care for this feature, it ultimately does not matter. But the interleave product requires both the napkin AND the dispenser to work properly.
- Interleave napkins are a comparatively new product and remain under patent. Most manufacturers cannot legally produce them. As such, when purchasing interleave napkins, it is important to find the proper supplier.
At Napkins-Only, we cannot sell interleave dispensers or napkins, but we will guide interested customers to the proper manufacturer if requested.